So, later this week I’m having surgery. I’ve had a couple surgeries before, but this is the first one where I feel like I’m actually having surgery. (Having my uterus snipped out a few years ago was a non-event. I cooked Thanksgiving dinner for my extended family the next day. Pfft.)
I’m having thumb arthroplasty surgery on my left carpometacarpal (CMC) joint. (Note: This is not carpal tunnel syndrome.) Essentially, I have no cartilage left between the joints, and the years of using anti-inflammatory medications, then cortisone shots directly into the joint, no longer work. This joint is used for the thumb-to-finger pinch movement, so clasping anything, such as picking up a glass of water, has become painful, and I drop sometimes things. Typing doesn’t hurt, but anything that requires using my thumb to pinch or rotate, or putting weight or stress on the thumb, is awful. Even the thought of moving my thumb from side to side makes me cringe. This is a degenerative disease, and is mostly hereditary. Thanks, Dad!
My Dad and his sister each had both of their hands operated on when they were in their 60s**, having the trapezoid bone replaced with a nylon piece. That’s not how it’s done any more. Now, they will remove the bone and use bits of my own tendons, threaded through some holes drilled in adjacent bones, to hold it all together. Hey, a YouTube link ! There is no blood or oozy things, but if you are uber-squeamish, skip the video. It’s about four minutes long.
I’m lucky to live in Houston, which has some of the top medical facilities in the United States, and my particular orthopedic surgeon has been frequently listed as one of the top 1% hand surgeons in the US. He’s sort of the semi-official surgeon to some professional football team that plays around here, as well. I’m going to be in good hands, so to speak. I’ll have to wear a splint for a few days, then some sort of soft splint for six weeks. It could take several months to get my full strength back, but I’m committed to doing my therapy. The next few days will be unpleasant, since I am supposed to quit taking any NSAIDS for a week before the surgery.
My right thumb will probably need similar surgery some day, although for now, using my meds and getting an occasional shot keeps me functioning. Here’s to science!
**After reading this my Dad called and said he was only 56 when he had the surgery.
- Using Orthopedic Implants in Reconstructive Surgery (orthopedics.answers.com)